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Combining systems, software and services to deliver a 300% increase in throughput

Pets at Home

This retail giant needed to harness warehouse automation to ensure its distribution centres could support the rapid growth of its omni-channel and subscription business.

Our warehouse consultants used Breathe Technologies’ warehouse management software to transform order packing and material flow and deliver an ‘industry first’ automated prescription fulfilment solution.

The combination of expert insight, warehouse automation technology and software has enabled Pets at Home to achieve massive productivity and efficiency gains, without having to make complex and costly updates to its legacy warehouse management system (WMS).


  • The UK’s leading pet care business with annual revenues of over £1.3 billion (FYE 2022).
  • Distribution centres in Northampton and Stoke-on-Trent central to the success of its omni-channel and subscription-based growth.
  • 22% year-on-year growth in cross-channel shopping required warehouse automation to quickly deliver increased capacity, efficiency and productivity.
  • The warehouse automation solution needed to accommodate growing demand for subscription products with more complex quality control and fulfilment requirements.
  • There was a risk that time-consuming manual processes and limited flexibility of legacy warehouse management system (WMS) could limit growth opportunities and impact customer service levels.


  • New technology-enabled warehouse processes and systems to fully automate order packing.
  • Pick software module auto-segregates and validates orders.
  • Pack software module streamlines and speeds up processes.
  • Material Flow Control capability intelligently optimises warehouse conveyor routing and automated sortation.
  • Seamless integration between automation hardware, our warehouse management software and the host warehouse management system (WMS).
  • Realtime capture, analysis and reporting of key performance data.
  • 24/7 software and mechanical support package to maintain uptime.


  • 300% increase in throughput just two months after implementation of the warehouse automation solution.
  • 100% Return on Investment (ROI) in 18 months.
  • Maximised capacity to handle 88,000 orders per week.
  • Increased accuracy whilst reducing manual process and QC checking.
  • Reduced labour requirement for temporary staff during peak periods.
  • Extended lifespan and reduced costs of legacy warehouse management system (WMS), conveyors and barcode readers.
  • Enhanced visibility and insights around system and automation performance.

Read on for much more detail around how our warehouse automation systems, software and services helped this customer transform performance in its distribution centres.

Breathe Technologies’ software has enabled us to treble the number of orders we can fulfil.

Terry Siddle, Director of Logistics & Distribution, Pets at HomePets at Home


Established in 1991, Pets at Home is the UK’s leading pet care business, providing a broad range of products and services including food, toys, bedding, grooming services and veterinary care.

It’s an omni-channel business with over 450 stores, a range of subscription services and an e-commerce platform offering both home delivery and click and collect options.

In 2003 Pets at Home opened its first national distribution centre in Stoke-on-Trent. To manage the rapid growth in demand for online retail and services, a second site in Northampton was opened during 2011.

Breathe Technologies have partnered with the business on a number of warehouse automation projects over the past 6 years to help optimise processes, performance and support growth.

Pets At Home
Pets at Home Warehouse Automation

The situation:

Pets at Home has achieved sustained success thanks to an omni-channel and subscription strategy that has tapped into the growth of pet ownership.

With annual revenues of over £1.3 billion (FYE 2022) and seeing 22% year-on-year growth in cross-channel shopping, the business wanted to harness warehouse automation to increase capacity and support customer service levels.

It needed to update the legacy control system at its Stoke-On-Trent distribution centre to improve sortation efficiency. This system, and its interface with the warehouse management system (WMS) were not performing adequately and required costly support.

Pets at Home also identified the requirement to fully automate the picking and packing of online orders at its Northampton site, with a particular focus on supporting the more complex requirements created by prescription products like pet medication (e.g. flea, tick and worm treatment).

This monthly subscription-based product line involved a time-consuming manual process that required a ‘suitably qualified person’ (SQP) to process orders and manage a high level of quality control checks.

Pets at Home needed to increase capacity and efficiency to support growth ambitions, whilst maintaining the highest customer service levels.

The business also faced intense competition for labour at the Northampton centre, so wanted to use technology to reduce the requirement for temporary staff during peak periods.

Contact our experts to understand more about our warehouse process automation solutions

Breathe Technologies’ breadth of experience meant we could design and implement a solution that ensures we can operate with really high levels of efficiency and accuracy.

Terry Siddle, Director of Logistics & Distribution, Pets at HomePets at Home

Thanks to our established track record delivering successful warehouse automation, Breathe Technologies was commissioned to help optimise Pets at Home’s distribution centres.

A phased approach was planned to alleviate pressures on the warehouses and allow benefits to be realised earlier for customers.

We started by replacing the ageing and expensive legacy control system and warehouse management system (WMS) interface responsible for conveyor routing and sortation at the Stoke-On-Trent site.

Through a custom configuration of the Material Flow Control capabilities within our next generation warehouse management software, we were able to achieve this cost efficiently and quickly.

With sortation optimised at the Stoke-on-Trent distribution centre, we then designed and implemented a fully automated warehouse packing solution for Pets at Home’s Northampton site.

The first phase of the project focused on process improvement for the subscription-based orders that required significant manual intervention and quality control checks from a ‘suitably qualified person’ (SQP).

This included designing and implementing new technology systems and configuring the Pick, Pack and Material Flow Control capabilities of our modular warehouse automation software to create an innovative ‘industry first’ process for prescription services.

The warehouse automaton solutions delivered for Pets at Home include:

Pets at Home Warehouse Automation
Pets at Home Warehouse Automation


  • Using an independent mezzanine floor to maximise space and provide additional control for subscription-based orders that require ‘suitably qualified person’ (SQP) oversight.
  • Installation of conveyors that optimally route, pack and sort a wide range of products.
  • Integrating and configuring new warehouse automation packing technology capable of managing multiple packaging material options.
  • Installing automated label print and apply systems with auto-reject functionality.


  • Configuration of our Material Flow Control capabilities to provide optimised Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) routing instructions, collection and communication of scanner-captured route information to the warehouse management system (WMS) and real time data reporting on each barcode scan.
  • Using our Pick module to enhance the segregation process and diversify container picking based on order and SKU type.
  • Tailoring our Pick module to auto-validate orders before they are packed and generate a customer update email. Any errors are highlighted in real time for a ‘suitably qualified person’ (SQP) to review.
  • Configuring our Pack module to provide a simple user interface that streamlines the warehouse packing function and enables higher throughput per operator.
  • Combined deployment of Material Flow Control and Pack functionality to optimise diverse order streams such as eComm, out of gauge and wide aisle.
  • Providing seamless integration between the automation technology, our warehouse management software and Pets at Home’s warehouse management system (WMS) to avoid complex and expensive changes to the host system.
  • Enabling real time reporting on warehouse automation system performance to unlock valuable business intelligence.
Warehouse ManagementSoftware WMS
Pets at Home Warehouse Automation


  • Process improvement analysis and warehouse system design to develop an optimised solution combining technology, software and warehouse operators.
  • Software configuration and integration to tailor our modular warehouse management software’s capabilities and integrate it with host systems.
  • Helpdesk and remote user support for Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and software.
  • Onsite assistance, mechanical support and call out.

This innovative solution highlights the importance of automation and technology in managing large volumes of products through retail warehouses.

Claire Umney, Managing Director, Breathe TechnologiesBreathe Technologies

The implementation of optimised warehouse automation systems and warehouse management software has delivered significant benefits for Pets at Home.


Throughput increased by 300% in just a couple of months by automating the fulfilment process across sorting, transport, order picking and packing.


The solution is capable of packing 88,000 orders per week, which is key to the business achieving its objectives of 100% growth in parcel volumes by financial year end 2023.


The business has made considerable direct savings by decreasing the running costs and extending the lifespan of legacy systems, as well as reducing the need for temporary staff during peak periods.

Return on Investment

The system delivered 100% Return on Investment (ROI) in under 18 months and will continue generating cost efficiencies and productivity gains as the business grows.

Customer service

Our software has helped set new industry standards by ensuring a high level of order accuracy and user accountability, whilst reducing the need for manual quality control checks.


Seamless integration between warehouse automaton technology, software and the host warehouse management system (WMS) enables higher volumes of orders to be processed without any bottlenecks and provides real time visibility over order status.

Continuous improvement

The data tools within Breathe Technologies’ warehouse management software have enhanced business intelligence around system and automation performance.


The fully automated warehouse packing system helps meet changing customer needs by handling a diverse set of order streams and allows more product variation on repeat subscription items.


Pets at Home’s distribution centres are now capable of providing the high levels of customer service and fast delivery needed to support the business’ multi-channel fulfilment, digitalisation and subscription service growth strategy.

The SQP process that we have designed with this mechanisation is the only one in the industry that runs like this, ensuring we can operate with really high levels of efficiency and accuracy.

Terry Siddle, Director of Logistics & Distribution , Pets at Home Pets at Home

The Pets at Home SQP solution is delivering significant savings and efficiencies to meet growing demand now and into the future. It perfectly demonstrates the power and flexibility of our software and how this enables full turnkey solutions for retailers looking to transform their business through warehouse automation.

Claire Umney , Managing Director, Breathe TechnologiesBreathe Technologies